On a trip to the local mini supermarket the other day, the fruit and veg section was almost empty, there was nothing on the shelves that usually hold the ready made sandwiches and the ready meals section was devoid of the normal selection of food. This is not an isolated occurrence, all over the UK people report shortages in supermarkets and empty shelves which were once stuffed full of produce. The shortages are being caused due to a combination of the pandemic and the British Government’s ideologically driven decision to pursue the hardest Brexit it could get away with, driving away untold thousands of the EU citizens that the UK relied on to fill low paid jobs like delivery drivers. No other European country is currently facing empty supermarket shelves but in the UK we have a right wing media which colludes with the Conservatives in blaming it all on Covid as though the entirely avoidable chaos of the Tories’ hard Brexit had nothing to do with it.
Meanwhile energy prices are soaring just as the British government has cut Universal Credit,throwing thousands of the poorest households in the UK into penury,they have announced a hike in National Insurance which will be disproportionately be felt by those on the lowest wages. For thousands of people in the UK this winter, it will be a choice between heating their homes or putting food on the table. For many people already in poverty in a few days they have seen the end of furlough, the loss of £20 a week Universal Credit, food shortages and rising prices and now a huge jump in energy costs. UK electricity prices are now the highest in Europe. (https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/091321-factbox-uk-electricity-prices-now-most-expensive-in-europe ) Red wall constituents in the North of England , now you know why your parents never voted Tory. To be fair the problems with the UK energy supply market are not entirely due to Brexit, Brexit has compounded problems that have built up over decades due to Conservative privatisation and deregulation and a lack of investment. The exact same thing has led to the UK having the most expensive railways in Europe.
Today we discovered that the much heralded trade deal with the USA which was supposed to be one of the biggest benefits of Brexit won’t be happening any time soon. Back in 2017 Johnson boasted that the UK would be “first in line” for a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA. However now President Biden has said that a trade deal with the UK is not a priority for his administration. The Americans have no plans even to start talks with the UK about any possible future US-UK trade deal. It’s not even on their radar. About 30% of the USA’s international trade is with Canada and Mexico, a further 13% is with China. Just 2.5% of America’s international trade is with the UK, about the same as India, Taiwan, Vietnam. Agreeing a trade deal with the UK is simply not that important for the Americans. So not only is the UK not “first in line” for a trade deal with the USA, there isn’t even a line. Under international spotlight the so-called Global Britain has shown itself to be exposed and weak and lumbered with a leader who can only express himself in stuttering soundbites as he desperately tries to avoid answering simple questions.
Johnson has shown us the real benefits of an Eton education. It imbues members of the British upper middle class with a confident arrogance that makes them think they can keep on bumbling through even when they are hopelessly outclassed. When Scotland was told in 2014 that it needed the UK in order to keep punching above our weight Better Together never clarified that that would only be in the international laughing stock stakes.
Additionally Biden has made it clear that both he and the Republicans in Congress will not consider any trade deal with the UK if the British Government does not respect the commitments it made in the Good Friday Agreement to ensure that there would be no border checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.
According to reports in the same right wing press that told us that the UK would have few problems quickly striking a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA, faced with the prospect of there being no trade deal with the USA for the foreseeable future, the British government is now looking at joining the USA’s existing Mexico-Canada trade deal as a junior partner. That would be the same Conservative government which insisted on leaving the EU customs union and single market after Brexit because it claimed that it couldn’t countenance the UK being a “rule taker” and not a “rule maker”. It now seems that it can after all accept the UK being a rule taker just as long as the rules are made by Canada, Mexico and the USA. The irony is that had the UK remained in the EU it would still have been a rule maker.
However British nationalism left the EU because it can’t contemplate the UK being an equal of other states and having to negotiate and compromise like a grown up. So in pursuit of the fantasy of British exceptionalism it threw away the UK’s place in the EU and its existing trading arrangements and now the British Government is left scrabbling around trying to rescue what it can from the wreckage of its own vanity. I don’t recall any Brexit supporters telling us that once the UK left the EU it would be free to do what it’s told by Mexico. But that’s what Brexit has turned out to mean in practice.
But still, we can always rely on the Scottish Conservatives to get straight to the heart of the really important issues that affect Scotland as a part of the UK. Douglas Ross spent most of his allotted time in the most recent Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee asking why there aren’t more Scottish families on Gogglebox.
Brexit is a disaster. The UK is facing the worst crisis since the end of WW2, an avoidable and unnecessary crisis which was created by the vanity and hubris of the right wing British nationalists of the Conservative party. Only independence can rescue Scotland from this British exceptionalist mess and put us on the path to becoming a normal north west European nation.
There won’t be a blog update tomorrow as I have a physiotherapy appointment in the morning and as usual I’ll be wiped out afterwards.
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